Moment of substance...



















My old truck had broken down half way to La Cienega de Horcones a small "ejido" or hamlet of about 87 rural settlers that make their home living high up the sierras of Northern Sonora.

The treaturous roads had already claimed one of my tires and I spent more then an hour switching out the flat - more like peeling off remnants of a badly ripped up Firestone.

Traveling to La Cienega much like La Agua Fria or San Jose de los Pozos is very difficult. From my village it requires taking a dirt and rock trail that is best accessible by four wheel drive vehicles.  My 1999 Ford F-150 doesn't know it isn't a 4 x 4 and we've made the climb several times each year.

This trip takes from 6 to 7 hours depending if it has rained. After the aprox. 6 to 7 hour trip, one must then continue traveling on foot or by horseback for several more hours.

There are many very interesting archaeological sites, five of which are cliff dwellings. The cliff dwellings are: Rancho Las Cuevas, Cueva El Cajón, Cueva El Cajoncito and Cueva Barranca de la Yegua all of which are located in arroyo Jaquiverachi.

On this trip I was taking some medical supplies to the Marquez family and possibly transport the ill Don Marquez back to the village. They had called and said that they had no way of coming into town with their elderly Abuelo.

The old Ford gave no indication that something was wrong - it sputtered and quit running sending us sliding backwards and very close to sending us into a deep ravine. After finally getting la burrita vieja - the pet name I had given my trusty F-150 was the little old donkey. 

Edgar and I sighed and knew we had come close to sailing off the edge without a chute. We made sure to put some large rocks behind each back wheel and then opened up the hood.

We looked intently under the hood for what seemed hours - the sun was directly overhead and radiating like a sea of spears on our heads and backs. Neither one of us was ever mechanically gifted so why we opened up the hood much less spent any amount of time staring at the engine block we'll never know.

We did however check the obvious - the hoses, belts, oil level, the transmission fluid and even the radiator for punctures... and then we waited a few minutes and tried to crank the engine and waited to see if the old burrita would respond. Nothing - Nada.

Time was not on our side and the mid day sun became an afternoon one. It was very hot and we couldn't hear anything but the birds and some wild turkeys in the distance. But there were no sight of a rancher or possibly a truck in the surrounding wilderness.

We decided one of had to go on by foot and seek assitance at a nearby ejido. We flipped a coin to see who would go for help. I have never been a betting man - much less a good gambler and I lost the toss.

So I took my canteen and we said our goodbyes and I began my trek to nowhere.

After two hours I stopped to rest and to take a swig of some luke warm well water out of my olive green US Army canteen. I knew that I had another couple of hours to go and after a few  minutes I commenced the final push to La Cienega.

All of a sudden I heard what I thought were the galloping hoofs of some horses, along with the loud laughter of what seemed a couple of ranchers. It was like a dream! You would have thought I had just heard Ed McMahon with publisher's clearing house knocking on my door to deliver my million dollar check. I yelled with excitement!

"Hola compadres!" I yelled over and over. With my last burst of energy I began jogging towards the beautiful sounds of hoofs hitting the dirt and rocky earth.

Out of breath, dehydrated and and a 110% sun burned I finally came around the bend to see three men on horseback coming towards me.

"You look like you could use an amigo." The youngest one yelled and everyone laughed. "I could use three!" I yelled back.

They quickly dismounted and soon were offering me cool water from their own canteens. I knew two of the ranchers. Soon I was telling them about how worried I was about my broken down truck and how I had left young Edgar watching it.

I also asked them if they knew how old man Marquez was doing.

"That old piece of "carne seca" or beef jerky is a tough son of a gun. He'll be ok till we get you to see him."

The older one said, "So don't worry, we can check on your truck, but for now let's take care of you and get you out of this heat."

Another one said, "We can fix the truck, but if something happens to you - then we are all in trouble." Everyone had another laugh. Deep down I was touched by his words.

The egg and potatoe burritos they shared with me were better then a What-a-Burger's "Taquitos."  I devoured the two gigantic flour tortilla burritos and a half of a canteen of cool spring water.

I had just been served with kindness and compassion - by three rugged ranchers and what an unexpected meal it was.

We all have it in us to create moments like this one. Moments of substance where we can touch someone's life. It doesn't have to be anything big - just a little bit of compassion and kindness.

Whether it is being extra nice to the 7-11 store worker, the garbage collectors or mailman... find a way to offer someone a bit of your personal substance.

Take time to create them.

You'll find that people - strangers even will certainly be touched by them.

Make it a great dia!

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